Battle of the bigs: Big-name big men to meet on Big Monday

Tonight’s Big Monday game between Kansas University and Baylor could feature an interesting game-within-the-game between KU’s Thomas Robinson, No. 0 in photo at left, and Baylor’s Perry Jones III, No. 1 in photo at right.

Bill Self worked at Kansas University — as a graduate assistant — the last time a visiting Big 12/Big Eight team came to Allen Fieldhouse with an unblemished overall record.

One has to go back to Jan. 21, 1986, when No. 5-ranked Oklahoma (17-0) was taken down by No. 7-rated KU, 98-92.

Today, a mere 26 years later, No. 4 Baylor carries an identical 17-0, 4-0 record into Allen for an 8:30 p.m. showdown against the No. 10 Jayhawks (14-3, 4-0).

“I think we’ll be really excited playing on Martin Luther King Day in a Big Monday game. Getting Vitale (Dick, ESPN) and those cats in here … I think does add to it,” ninth-year KU head coach Self said of what figures to be a huge hoops happening.

“Our guys will be geeked up and ready to go, no question.”

KU, which leads the all-time series against Baylor, 16-2 — Self is 8-1 versus the Bears; Baylor coach Scott Drew is 1-8 against the Jayhawks — will be facing one of the most talented teams in Baylor history tonight.

“I don’t know how many NBA guys they’ve got, but they’ve got more than they ever have,” Self said. believes 6-foot-11 sophomore Perry Jones III (13.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg) will be the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and 6-9 freshman Quincy Miller (11.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) the No. 12 selection. Quincy Acy, a 6-7 senior (12.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg), is a major talent with 40 blocked shots, while 5-10 juco transfer Pierre Jackson averages 12.3 points and 5.1 assists. Brady Heslip, a 6-2 sophomore, averages 10.5 ppg.

“They are terrific,” Self said of a BU team off to the best start in school history. The Bears join Murray State and Syracuse as the only remaining undefeated teams in Div. I this season.

“They play (2-3) zone. It’s different. We can’t simulate their length in practice. I wish we had more than one day to prepare for their zone,” Self added.

BU has used some man-to-man defense this season as well.

“They start in zone. They are mixing it up pretty well,” Self said.

As to how KU will try to attack, Self said: “The more length they have, it seems to me the harder you have to take it at them. You can’t shy from contact or they’ll end up blocking everything. I hope we can get the ball inside the zone and not settle.”

The Jayhawks enter as 51?2-point favorites.

“I think it’s going to be a good game. I’m excited for this game,” said KU senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor, who exploded for 28 points in Saturday’s 82-73 victory over Iowa State at Allen Fieldhouse.

Baylor, meanwhile, crushed Oklahoma State, 106-65, Saturday in Waco, Texas, behind Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Jones’ 19 points and 12 rebounds. Miller had 21 points and Jackson 18 points, including five of BU’s 15 threes.

“Baylor is a really good team, really athletic. They have guys that can make plays. They have guys that can pretty much stretch the floor and do everything,” Taylor said. “I think it’s going to be a good challenge for us. I’m really excited. It’s a Big Monday game, and the fieldhouse is going to be crazy.

“They’re going to come in with a lot of confidence, as they should. They’re an undefeated team with really good players, so it’s going to be a good game.”

Jones knows Robinson: Baylor’s Jones competed at several camps this past summer with KU’s Thomas Robinson.

“I mean, we are cool off the court, even on the court, but when it’s time to compete, it’s time to compete,” Jones told the Journal-World at Big 12 Media Days. “I’m definitely going to give him my A-game. I know he’ll give me his A-game. It definitely will be a competitive game.”

The 235-pound Jones practices daily against BU’s Acy.

“He’s fast, the same as Robinson. It’ll be an all-around good game for both of us,” Jones said of him and Robinson.

Jones was asked by the Dallas Morning News if Saturday’s rout of OSU served as a “statement game” heading into today’s contest.

“No, not at all. Just taking it one game at a time,” he said. “Not looking ahead until it’s time. Now it’s time to get ready for Kansas. And that’s what we need to focus on now.”

Remember the video flap?: It should be interesting to see if Baylor stays on the court to view KU’s pregame video tonight. Two seasons ago, the Bears raced through the southwest tunnel for some quiet time as the Jayhawk video played and the Jayhawks were introduced.

“I don’t think it was a slap in the face, but I thought it was disrespectful. You can’t come in somebody’s home court and disrespect them like that,” then-KU senior Sherron Collins said after hitting for 28 points in an 81-75 KU victory. “I went to our huddle and said what they did was disrespectful. I said, ‘Let’s go. Let’s win.'”

BU coach Drew at the time explained: “I never dreamed that people might take it as disrespectful. Obviously, had I known that might be the case, we’d have never done it. It was simply because we knew we only had a minute when we got back out. We wanted to go over what we wanted to do to start the game, and there’s no rules against it or anything. We just met in the hallway because their intro is pretty good and pretty long. (It was) no sign of disrespect or anything like that.”

About the Bears: BU (17-0) is the fifth Big 12 team to start a season 15-0 or better. KU owns the three-best season starts — 22-0 in 1996-97, 20-0 in 2007-08 and 18-0 in 2010-11. Texas started 17-0 in 2009-10. … BU is 1-4 all-time in ESPN Big Monday contests; its lone win came against No. 6 KU in 2001. … Baylor is 4-0 in games decided by five points or less. … BU has made at least one three-pointer in 636 consecutive games. … BU senior Acy ranks 18th in school history with 1,114 points. He also is second in career FG percentage (60.6), second in career blocks (147) and needs eight rebounds to crack Baylor’s career top-10. … In his last 48 games, Acy has blocked 85 shots. … In all, 50 of Heslip’s 58 field goals have been threes. … Heslip has made multiple treys in 14 games. … Heslip and Jackson have combined for 85 points in the last three games.

About KU: KU is facing its fourth Top-10 team this season. The Jayhawks lost to No. 2 Kentucky, 75-65, in the Champions Classic Nov. 15 at Madison Square Garden and to No. 6 Duke, 68-61, in the Nov. 25 championship game of the Maui Invitational. KU beat No. 2 Ohio State, 78-67, on Dec. 10 in Lawrence. … KU is 2-2 against ranked foes in 2011-12, 28-10 since 2006-07 and 37-20 under Self (2003-04). … KU has won 15 in a row at home.